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LIFEParents warned against using tablets as ‘babysitters’

Experts say parents should monitor the time children spend on tablets

By Nada Al Taher, Staff Reporter
July 29, 2012
Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Experts have warned parents to limit the amount of time children spend using tablet computers.

Dr Veena Lutra, child psychiatrist, told Gulf News that parents should limit the time children spend using tablets, just as they would stop them watching too much TV.

She said: “Children as young as two and three years old just love these new gadgets and seem to know how to use them almost by intuition.

“It is a relief, for a busy parent, to see their child being occupied for a little bit — sort of like a babysitter.

“But children need to develop their social skills which can only be built through interaction with others.

“They will start to throw tantrums and ask for more hours because the passive nature of using these tools at a young age can be addictive.”

With almost more iPads being bought per day than there are people being born, the majority of homes in first-world countries, such as the UAE, now have these gadgets,

Some parents, such as Doha Mohammad, a Syrian mother of two says her 4 year-old son, Hisham, taught himself how to use the iPad and spends a minimum of one hour per day on the device.

She said: “Despite knowing that Hisham uses it to watch educational videos for children, I still think it is important for him to interact with other kids his age to build his social and creativity skills.

“The physical presence of a teacher in a classroom full of children is a healthier and more efficient method of teaching.”

Ahmad Al Hammadi, senior analyst at the Abu Dhabi Education Council, which created the iClass, a one-year pilot project using digital learning tools, agrees: “If the technology was not directed, it will not be beneficial for the child.

“It is less about the electronics and more about the way it is being used.

“The main initiative for introducing these devices to the classroom is to add a form of entertainment to education through interaction and collaboration with other students.

“This is done under the supervision of teachers who are not only trained to handle the tools but are also skilled at utilizing them to reach lesson objectives.”

Parents of older children such as Emirati father, A.R.H, whose sons are aged 7, 12 and 13 years old voiced more serious concerns regarding these touch-screen tablets.

”My sons may spend a total of 10 hours a day on electronics alone. I bought all three boys one tablet to share and they started a domestic war. I had to buy each one his own and the distraction which this has caused them is very alarming,” said the 45 year-old.

A.R.H complained about the noise levels around the house.

He added: “The constant need for more games has taken a financial and psychological toll on my family because of the number of gaming platforms in his house.”

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